Lamb prices fluctuated last week, with the market showing gains on some days but losses on others.
One of the highlights this year has been light weight well-bred secondary lambs. Producers are showing their faith in lamb prices as store values lift, but prime markets remain in a holding pattern.
There was plenty of interest from all states in putting lambs back out in the paddock, with the restocker indicator closing at the end of trade last on 693¢/kg. This meant lambs weighing 12-14kg generally made $100-$128. Agents said declining supplies of well-bred light lambs as winter approaches is helping fuel demand.
The eastern states heavy lamb indicator lifted marginally to 624¢/kg. The trade lamb indicator gained 6¢ to rest at 636¢/kg.
Trade lamb prices were slightly weaker at Wagga and Griffith, thanks to the drop in quality and processor competition. Rates at Wagga’s bigger market of 26,000 lambs eased $1-$2 for trade lambs. Dry longer-wool lambs dragged prices down as buyers went in search of fresh, shorter skinned stock.
The entire offering of trade lambs averaged 631¢/kg carcass weight, selling to a top of $164.20.
Fluctuating competition for heavy lambs 26-30kg – caused by one major processor only operating on the heaviest pens – resulted in prices slipping back $3, making from $167-$201.
The local contingent of restockers took home some well-bred lots of secondary lambs, but found the going tough against interstate competition. Merino trade ewes sold up to $15 cheaper averaging 505¢/kg, while the heavier portion fell $10 to average 545¢/kg cwt. Cross bred ewes sold $9-$24 cheaper making $96-$190.
At Bendigo, there was a decrease of 1960 lambs while sheep supplies fell by 1400 in a yarding of 12,665. The National Livestock Reporting Service said the market was unchanged to $8 dearer.
Larger price gains were quality driven, with buyers favouring shorter skinned fresh lambs. Trade lambs made $121-$172 to average 636¢/kg cwt. Heavy lambs rates averaged 606-620¢/kg cwt. Store lamb rates were up. Extra heavy lambs were sold to mostly firm rates at Ballarat in a much-smaller yarding of almost 19,000 lambs. Heavy export lambs were keenly sought, with 42 pens selling at $200 and above to record a top price of $245 averaging 641¢/kg cwt. Better-quality trade lambs were $5 dearer, with carcass weights prices bouncing above 700¢/kg. The bulk of the medium and heavy trade made from $145-$178.
Store lambs met unbridled enthusiasm by restockers and feedlots after dearer rates last week for some weight classes. Lambs back to the paddock gained $2-$9, making from $123-$155.